City Jails and Hospitals Must Cut Down on Meat

The first-of-its-kind law follows the city’s decision to stop charging for phone calls from jail.

Meat lovers may want to keep on the straight and narrow in San Francisco. 

The city’s Board of Supervisors on Tuesday voted to significantly reduce the consumption of animal products, including meat, eggs, and dairy, in city jails and public hospitals. Jails must reduce purchases of animal products by 50 percent in 2024, and public hospitals, including Zuckerberg General and Laguna Honda, must reduce animal product purchases by 15 percent in 2023. 

The law comes in response to animal rights and environmental advocates urging the city to use its purchasing power to advance those causes. Animal livestock accounts for 14.5 percent of greenhouse gas emissions globally, according to the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations. 

“Animal agriculture is the next frontier for a rising divestment and defunding movement towards a more compassionate and sustainable world,” said Victoria Gu, a volunteer with Compassionate Bay, one of the organizations advocating for the measure, in a press release. Advocates say this is a first-of-its-kind policy in the U.S.

The law, sponsored by Supervisors Sandra Lee Fewer and Rafael Mandelman, awaits the signature of Mayor London Breed, who is expected to sign it. 

It has been a big week for jail reform in San Francisco. On Monday, Mayor Breed announced that San Francisco would stop charging people incarcerated in city jails for phone calls. That policy was framed in terms of economic justice: In 2018, incarcerated people and their families paid over $1 million for phone calls from city jails. 

City leaders emphasized both measures are intended to set a precedent around the country. In introducing the animal product reduction agenda item on July 28, Supervisor Fewer said, “People will look back in 20 years and say, ‘Wow, I can’t believe that we were eating all this meat.’”

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